As Carlee Hansen relaxed in her house and scrolled through her email one recent morning, she discovered something she thought wasn’t going happen at all this year.
It was the announcement or the Gatorade Utah Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year award. Because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring sports season in the state, the potential of receiving it hadn’t crossed her mind.
But it was Hansen’s name in the email. She is the first girls’ track and field athlete from Woods Cross to win the award.
“It can show how people who are fast, they can be from anywhere,” Hansen said.
Woods Cross, a 5A school, is not considered one of the elites in Utah prep track and field, Hansen said. So winning the award and being put in the company of some of the best runners in the country is special to her.
Hansen normally runs the 1,600-meter race, but also competes in the 800 and, occasionally, the 3,200. She was named a New Balance All-American for her performance in the 1,600 during an indoor season event, where her time of 4 minutes, 54.29 seconds ranked 11th in the country among high school competitors.
“Carlee has a desire to race and beat the best athletes in the country,” Woods Cross track and field coach Sam Wood said. “She isn’t afraid to be challenged and has always stepped up to the challenge throughout her time at Woods Cross. We are lucky to have one more year to see how she can continue to improve and take her talents to the collegiate level.”
Hansen said she’s being recruited by several universities, including Brigham Young University, Princeton and the University of North Carolina.
Hansen only ran one outdoor race before the spring season was canceled. But she competed in a meet in Arizona two weeks ago once the state started loosening its restrictions. She ran her fasted time in the 800 since her freshman year, she said.
Hansen also competes in cross country for Woods Cross.
Hansen said she sometimes wonders if the season hadn’t been canceled, perhaps someone else might have been deserving of the award for girls’ track and field. But she doesn’t let that get to her too much.
“I felt like I work hard for it,” Hansen said. “And there’s always next year, too. I’m hoping to have even better performances just to show that I’ve improved.”